Patient portals are becoming an essential part of every clinical practice, both big and small. But for many clinics, getting a portal is just the first step. The more difficult part is getting your patients, staff, and providers to actually use the portal as intended. Providing patients access through a portal is part of your MIPS scoring, worth up to 40 points in the Promoting Interoperability category. Failing to meet these requirements can make it harder to score enough points to avoid the Medicare reimbursement penalty, which reaches its max of a 9% penalty in 2022 (for performance year 2020).
Here are some best practices to ensure that the investment you made in your portal will pay off by improving clinical efficiency, freeing up staff time, and providing patients with a better experience.
Have marketing materials available that explain the benefits (not just the features) to your patients. Saying that your portal has secure messaging doesn’t tell patients how that benefits them. Instead, tell them that your portal allows them to ask questions of the provider online at any time without the need to call. Promote your portal at every opportunity, including in all other patient handouts.
Telling patients about the portal and then waiting for them to sign up could leave you with only a small percentage of patients who actually follow through. Instead, set up a way to enroll patients automatically (unless they specifically opt out). Give them instructions at their appointment and follow up with an email link showing them how to go in and change their password from the one you assign as a default.
3: Mandatory Use
There are some things you can tell your patients that are mandatory for the portal. For example, tell your patients that they will not receive a phone call for lab results that come back “normal.” Instead, they will only be able to get those results through the portal. This requires them to sign up and use it for something simple, which can help them learn how to use it and see the benefits for themselves. Another way to make portal usage mandatory is to require that all email communications go through the portal. This forces patients who want to use email to send messages to your physicians or staff to sign up for the portal.
Check out part two of this blog for more tips on how to get higher engagement on your patient portal. If you don’t have a patient portal or you don’t have one that is working for you and your patients, contact us at AdvancedMD to learn more about our portal.